tampabay.com

League network trumps teams'

"I'm not here to step on toes. I'm here to help the Seahawks win," former Bucs WR Joe Jurevicius said during a news conference.

By ROGER MILLS
Published March 29, 2005


TAMPA - Due in part to the success of its national network and the cost of starting a quality regional one, the NFL has squashed any hopes the Bucs had of starting their own network.

In Maui last week, NFL owners voted 30-1, with one abstention, to disband regional networks owned by the Cowboys and Falcons and shut down further notions for new networks, said Seth Palansky, the NFL's director of media services.

But the league left open a window of opportunity for the Bucs, and any team, to obtain air time on the NFL Network. The league is exploring the possibility of allowing each team allotted time for local content, such as a coach's news conference. It would allow teams to have affiliate network content, much like the national networks have local affiliates.

"There simply was not enough content dedicated to one team to fill that kind of commitment day in and day out," Palansky said. "Now teams can explore the possibility of alternative programming on the (NFL Network) and see how they want to use that time."

In August, in conjunction with Bright House Networks, the Bucs announced plans to begin a 24-hour network. The goal, the team said, was to have it up by training camp 2005.

But after launching the NFL Network in late 2003, the league placed a moratorium on all regional network plans, pending further investigation.

In the meantime, the NFL Network blossomed into a major media force with comprehensive coverage of breaking news, news conferences, league meetings and unprecedented access to players, coaches and administrators.

Mike Newquist, Bucs senior director of business administration, said the team was not surprised by the league's decision.

"We really weren't that far along because the league had put that moratorium on it pretty early," Newquist said. "When we came up with the idea, the league had already started thinking about the process of giving back the teams some local time on the network. So, once they came up with the concept of giving us some time locally, then it made sense.

"It accomplished what we wanted, which is local content for our Bucs fans. ... The NFL Network is huge and we're excited to be a part of it."

Newquist said the Bucs were looking forward to working with Bright House but, "we told them all along that it was possible that the league might not let it happen."

The league noted that start-up cost for a regional network would be significant since it would have to cover advertising sales, program creation and the hiring of staff and talent.

Newquist said he did not know whether Bucs owners voted to disband the regional network but said they were prepared to handle the cost.

The league will have to determine how it will allot air time to each team. "That's still up for debate," Newquist said. "If it starts there (at one hour), that would be perfectly fine. Their concern is while the Bucs might have great production, someone else might not. So the league as a whole has to balance how much time they they will allocate. Not everyone is taking it as seriously as we are and the Cowboys are."

THE NEW SEAHAWK: From the similarities on offense to the in-laws who can help baby-sit his 8-month-old daughter, Joe Jurevicius thinks he'll be a good fit with Seattle.

The receiver who signed a one-year deal last week was introduced in Kirkland, Wash., saying he won't have trouble adjusting to a system that features many elements of the one he learned over the past three seasons in Tampa Bay.

"I'll be able to do some things, whether it's working in the slot with Bobby Engram or with the other guys outside," he said. "Maybe I can be a little bit of a bigger target."

Jurevicius, 30, is 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds. "I'm not here to step on toes," he said. "I'm here to help the Seahawks win."

Jurevicius said it was tough to leave Florida, where he has a home, but his wife grew up in Mercer Island, Wash. He said he's happy to have family nearby: "It's great for baby-sitting purposes. It was really a very, very small part of my decision. When it comes down to it, you only play this game for a small time in the big scheme of things. I do believe my wife was happy that I just had a job."

DOLPHINS: Backup DT Dario Romero signed a one-year deal.

--Information from the Associated Press was used in the report.